I took the question of "ten tips" and tried to brain dump my best efforts. These are things I continue to do in practice every day, along with points I surely did not mention. We have a bunch of new initiatives and product improvements coming out this year at Forem and they are 100% guided towards making the hard parts outlined here a little less hard.
In the early days there will be a mismatch of idea creators and consumers. So you may need to focus on finding just enough interested consumers to get by while gradually showing them the permission to create. Content here is shorthand for ideas and thoughs.
My biggest regrets in community-building efforts that didn't pan out was to stop trying when success might have been just around the corner. When I started DEV, I gave myself 10 years to achieve success and the promise that I wouldn't stop pounding the rock until it cracked— Or if 10 years had passed. That was about 6.5 years ago now.
Get to know the nuance of growth within the ecosystem— Especially early on. There was a time in the sweet spot of Slack, Twitter, and any other catalyzing technologies when getting to know how to find folks was enabled by getting to know the platform and understanding how it ticked.
In the Forem ecosystem that means getting to know the new things we build for discovery and understanding how to flexibly fit in. We're still early days, but there is an "App store optimization" or "SEO" scenario that fits every space. Use the large monolithic platforms to help buoy you, but seek independence. (More here on #9).
In the era of "web publishing" it can be easy to lose track of the feelings of community... There will always be a medium, and you don't need to get too high-minded about it, but remember to see past the medium and try to think about the underlying purposes of community... The need for togetherness, mind-melding, learning from one another, etc.
If weekly participation, either as a creator or consumer, can become easier, you have a lot of wins. Maybe asking YouTube creators to cross-post their videos to your community instead of having to convince folks to create entirely original content. As long as you can get some kind of flywheel spinning with some consumption along the way, you're adding value through curation and aggregation.
In the spirit of AirBnB's early Craigslist postings to drum up listings, there are places to go to try and squeeze a little interest. Remember, it is ultimately about community. Doing anything spammy or unethical is tempting, but will never lead to the best outcomes.
If you can physically send people things, it is just... nice. In the early days you have the opportunity of being really thoughtful with how you do this. It will be harder later, so take advantage of your early energy to do a bit of gifting. To make it work for your community, find a way to associate it with something that directly helps the community grow. (I can't quite say what that would be.)
I think it's great to get things started on one's own. It's a way to maintain vision, and be thoughtful about who you do bring on, but whether it's a company project or your own personal community venture, eventually you should find people complement your skills and help make this thing happen.
The sub-header here is to use Forem. I really think the only true community building has to happen in a way that enables independence. I cringe when I hear a podcast say "join our community by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter". Not only is this just advertising for a giant which will bait-and-switch you at some point, it also means that every single community action is running through the most obtuse and faceless algorithms on earth. This really isn't how community needs to be built.
We first built DEV on Twitter, and our inability to moderate replies up to the standards of the community we wanted to build was just one of many reasons why independence was vital. We've poured years of work into the technical aspects of making DEV and Forem work, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend that burden on anyone, but I would recommend following our path and getting involved in the early days of the Forem project.
Living the community spirit and caring about your constituents is the only way true community forms. Don't lose sight of what matters.